Ravens News 6/17: Offseason Standouts

ravens news 6/17: offseason standouts

Ravens News 6/17: Offseason Standouts

Five things we learned from Ravens OTAs and minicamp, including the irrelevance of Lamar Jackson’s absences

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Lamar Jackson’s targets stack up about as we thought they would

OTAs and minicamp are made for pass catchers, with no contact to dissuade them and reduced emphasis on the running game. The defense often seems more organized than the offense, but the most spectacular plays invariably belong to the receivers.

We saw big, fast rookie Devontez Walker grab balls downfield as the Ravens hoped he would when they drafted him in the fourth round. We saw Malik Cunningham, a star quarterback at Louisville, take to wide receiver easily and earn attention from coaches who now seem intrigued by his potential. We saw steady production from 6-foot-3 Sean Ryan, who signed a futures deal with the team after he spent last season on the the practice squad.

Did any of this change the pecking order we’ll see in September? Probably not.

Tight end Mark Andrews, fit and intense as ever, remains Jackson’s first option when a play breaks down. Andrews’ running mate, Isaiah Likely, makes the most spectacular catches in the middle of the field. Zay Flowers is a threat at multiple levels and the most trusted wide receiver. Nelson Agholor is the wise veteran who communicates easily with his quarterback. And Rashod Bateman is the gifted wild card — solitary and hanging his head when he’s ignored, most dynamic playmaker on the field the next day.

We’ve watched Jackson long enough to know Andrews and Flowers will see the ball plenty, as will Likely if coordinator Todd Monken cracks the code to using him and Andrews as complementary threats. Bateman will have his best chance to break out, but until we see Jackson look for No. 7 consistently, week after week, we’ll wonder if it’s ever going to happen for him in Baltimore.

50 Words or Less: Trenton Simpson Could Be Next Young Defender to Emerge

Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com

Trenton Simpson celebrated his 23rd birthday Friday and looks very ready to become the starting inside linebacker next to Roquan Smith. Nate Wiggins is 20, Simpson and Kyle Hamilton are 23, Odafe Oweh is 25, and Justin Madubuike is 26. The Ravens are loaded with young defensive talent.

Everyone talks about Derrick Henry’s power, but his athleticism shouldn’t be overlooked. Running Backs Coach Willie Taggert isn’t worried about Henry adjusting to running more out of the shotgun formation. “(I saw) the big man move his feet,” Taggart said. “I don’t think we’ll have any problem.”

Charlie Kolar is the No. 3 tight end, but he would be higher on the depth chart with most teams. He’s having a strong offseason, and Harbaugh said Kolar has improved his blocking. Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely and Kolar give the Ravens an elite tight end group.

Nickel corner Arthur Maulet was a playmaker during mandatory OTAs with an interception and forced fumble. Maulet is a tenacious player who looks poised for another solid season. His decision to re-sign with Baltimore was a plus for a very deep secondary.

Brian Baldinger of NFL Network came away from mandatory minicamp impressed with Zay Flowers. I agree. Is it possible that Flowers has gotten even quicker? A 1,000-yard season from Flowers in Year 2 would not surprise me.

13 Ravens who stood out this offseason, from a veteran QB to a rising-star TE

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

RB Rasheen Ali: The Ravens know what they have in running backs Derrick Henry and Justice Hill. But, with Keaton Mitchell’s knee rehabilitation expected to sideline him through at least training camp, Ali has a chance to earn snaps on offense as a rookie. The fifth-round pick had 46 catches during his breakout 2021 season at Marshall — over 3.5 per game — and he showed soft hands throughout the offseason. Ball security is paramount for Ali, who struggled with fumbles in college, but he has good burst and wiggle.

CB Jalyn Armour-Davis: The third-year cornerback has the size (6-1, 197 pounds) and speed to run with just about any receiver on the Ravens’ roster. Armour-Davis wasn’t targeted often in minicamp, a good indication of his ability in coverage, and had an interception in OTAs. Now he just needs to stay healthy; hip and hamstring injuries and concussions have interrupted the 2022 fourth-round pick’s development. Even if snaps at cornerback are scarce for Armour-Davis this year, he can contribute on special teams.

Twelve Ravens Thoughts following mandatory minicamp

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

After a choppy first day including some interceptions, Lamar Jackson made some pretty throws down the seam to tight ends and connected with Zay Flowers on some highlight plays. We’re obviously talking about a two-time MVP who’s “not a high-rep guy” in Tee Martin’s words, so Jackson’s right on schedule.

This is nothing new after what we watched in 2023, but Isaiah Likely made multiple highlight grabs with Jackson joking that he needs to catch the ball with two hands. The ability to deploy Mark Andrews and Likely simultaneously feels key to this passing game hitting another level.

Speaking of ways to expand the offense, Rashod Bateman had a productive final day, albeit in a lighter practice that didn’t include wearing helmets. That was a positive after his underwhelming start to the week, but the on-field chemistry between Bateman and Jackson will remain a spotlight focus this summer.

For the third straight year, Ben Cleveland entered offseason workouts regarded by many as a favorite to win a starting job. But once again, I come out of the spring less confident in that predicition. In contrast, Andrew Vorhees appears on track in his quest to start at left guard.

PFF All-2000s Team: The best NFL players born in the 2000s

Zoltan Buday, PFF

C: TYLER LINDERBAUM, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Some may point to pass protection as being a weakness in Linderbaum’s game after he earned a 53.5 pass-blocking grade as a rookie in 2022. However, he followed that up with a very impressive 2023 season in which he led all centers with a 78.3 pass-blocking grade. He went from allowing 28 pressures in 2022 to giving up just 16 in 2023.

Linderbaum was the only center in the NFL to earn pass-blocking and run-blocking grades both above 78.0 last year.

S: KYLE HAMILTON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Hamilton did not need much time to get used to the NFL’s speed, as he ended up as the highest-graded safety in the NFL as a rookie (87.6). He finished lower in 2023 with an 86.4 overall grade, but he remains one of the best at the position in multiple areas.

Hamilton led all safeties last season in PFF pass-rushing grade (92.8), and his coverage grade (90.1) ranked third at the position.

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